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2016 SDP leadership election
15 and 22 July 2016

  Ines Michels 2016
Ines Michels
Gerald Henley
Henry Sherman
Henry Sherman

  K. House cropped
Karen House
Pieter Van Buskirk
Pieter Van Buskirk

The 2016 Social Democratic Party leadership election is a two-round election being held to determine a new leader for the Social Democratic Party. The election was announced by party leadership after chairman Gert Henneman resigned to concentrate on his duties as mayor of Cape Cross, and he was replaced by Pieter Van Buskirk.

Background and ProcessEdit

In 2014 Gert Henneman, then-president of Brunant pushed to introduce a referendum on ending the post of president, which was abolished with a majority of votes. Henneman then ran for an won the mayorship of Cape Cross, towards which he began putting most of his efforts. On 4 July 2016, party leader Henneman announced his resignation and said that "a new generation of party members should help lead the party" and that a new face may better represent the party. He further stated this was done to focus more on Cape Cross.

The party leadership announced an open candidacy the following day, with elections to quickly follow.

Election for a party leader will follow a two-round process. Candidates will need to receive 100 signatures before being confirmed. A first round will occur on 16 July, with a second round involving the top two candidates on 22 July. The 4896 registered members of the party will be able to vote, with ballots being received by post and mailed back, or alternately voters could arrive in person to the party's offices at Dial Tower Koningstad.

Confirmed candidatesEdit

I. Michels

Michels announcing her candidacy

  • Ines Michels: The former Prime Minister announced her intent to run on 5 July, emphasizing her record as PM and years of service in the government. Michels announced she would ensure that the <<SDP is able to better represent the left over small parties which splinter it>>.
  • Gerald Henley: Health Minister Henley was persudaded to run after several years of being asked. He stated his main desire was to continue with the successful Henneman years and build on the former president's policies and proposals.
  • Henry Sherman: The current Representative from Drenthe Parish and the son of prominent Senator Arthur Sherman has announced his candidacy for the nomination. He has stated that his main goals if elected leader would be to further regulate the nation's economy, lowering income taxes across all boards, and encouraging a greater push to increase the usage of green fuel across Brunant's industries.
  • Karen House: Koningstad's mayor House is the only candidate not in congress with the potential for serious support. She has said that he wishes to <<challenge the traditional leadership>> and bring more power to party members outside of congress. She has stated she would take the party on an anti-IWO course, part of her rhetoric in the past month, and definitely push to take Brunant to the forefront of social and environmental advancements.
  • Pieter Van Buskirk - Former External Affairs minister Van Buskirk was the last to announce his candidacy. He has been a longtime politician with the party and was minister on two occasions, which he stressed.

Senator Davina Henneman, wife of Gert Henneman was frequently named as a potential candidate but nothing happened. Cultural Affairs Minister Jazinta Benaid was being touted as a possible candidate, even showing some interest, but she instead backed Van Buskirk for the position.

Name Age Most recent position Announced candidacy Party endorsements Notable endorsements
Ines Michels 50 Representative in Congress 5 July
112 / 4,896
Jazinta Benaid (Cultural Affairs Minister)
Gerald Henley 65 Education Minister 9 July
57 / 4,896
Martha Andona (Brezonde mayor)
Henry Sherman 61 Representative in Congress 9 July
35 / 4,896
Emma Duvall (House member)
Karen House 36 Mayor of Koningstad 10 July
70 / 4,896
Christiane Vanderberg (Sint-Anders mayor)
Pieter Van Buskirk 51 Representative in Congress 14 July
101 / 4,896
Johanna Elteman (Former SDP leader)

The campaignEdit


By the candidacy deadline, five people officially showed interest in running for leader. Four of them are members of the House of Representatives, three of them being current or former ministers. Karen House was the surprise, being the only candidate not in Congress.

On 4 July, former Prime Minister Ines Michels was the first candidate to announce for the party leadership. Michels stated she would unite the party to keep in check the rise of small and alternative leftist parties. She frequently cited her years in power

Commentators saw Henley and Michels as the leading candidates, but the introduction of Van Buskirk to the race would definitely take away support from Henley, who is most similar to him.

14 July debateEdit

Van Buskirk

Van Buskirk during the debate

Karen House poster

A debate was held on 14 July at Rosetown Public Library with all five candidates. House was the surprise, not conceding to the other, more experienced candidates. The media largely saw Sherman as the <<least strong>> and prepared, though it was Michels who received the most criticism, over her years as Prime Minister and her financial policies. Brunant's involvement with the IWO and the European Union were major issues in the debate. While most candidates saw a very negative outlook in a potential <<out>> for Brunant, Van Buskirk said a for or against decision on that matter could not be so quickly determined, and House stated Brunant needed push to transform the EU's internals or otherwise look towards a possible exit.

Regarding the IWO, Michels and Henley were heavily opposed to leaving it, while House again was vigorous in her opposition to the organization, calling it <<unorganized>> and <<dominated by the same Lovian politicians>>. Van Buskirk surprisingly agreed with some of what she had to say, though did not agree with an exit. Instead, he said reform needed to be done, such as stricter criteria and selection for membership.

After the debate, Van Buskirk and Henley were deemed to be the strongest contenders, with House able to <<definitely surprise all with a pass to the second round>>. Koningstad newspaper the The Daily Post said that Van Buskirk was best poised to take the leadership, with House being a potential destabilizer.

Run-up to the first voteEdit

On 15 July, House launched a simple poster advert stating to vote House to beat the House, in reference to the other candidates all members of the House, with the hashtag KARENforSDP trending on Twitter in Brunant. Almost immediately Michels and Van Buskirk responded saying that as members of the House they have experience, and the former Prime Minister going so far as to say she was <<lucky to be mayor, considering her result in [Koningstad's] election>> and not yet experienced to head the party.

A number of party members not in the House responded positively to her campaign, notably Christiane Vanderberg and Giulio Conti, both mayors. Esquedra Republicana na Barzona support Karen House also.

First-round voteEdit

Name Percentage Votes
Ines Michels 20.6
1,008 / 4,896
Gerald Henley 12.7
622 / 4,896
Henry Sherman 9.3
455 / 4,896
Karen House 24.8
1,213 / 4,896
Pieter Van Buskirk 32.6
1,598 / 4,896

Van Buskirk and House finished first and second, respectively. Support for House was overwhelming from SDP members in municipal government, with Michels and Henley suffering the most. Those quickly moved to back Van Buskirk, which House called a move of <<fear by the establishment on having change in the party>>.

Support for House continued strong, and a number of members of congress gave her support publicly, including Emma Duvall and Katelyn Monnet.

Second-round voteEdit

4872 party members voted in the second round. Pieter Van Buskirk received 59.5% of the total vote, compared to 40.5 for Karen House.

Name Percentage Votes
Karen House 40.5
1,974 / 4,872
Pieter Van Buskirk 59.5
2,898 / 4,872

Political commentators were looking at either a close vote or a large win for Van Buskirk, but it resulted a comfortable win for Van Buskirk. The vote generated some division, especially with House stating the party's senior members in congress may have conspired to stop her <<successful>> campaign chances.

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